Focus on Math

Helping children become mathematicians!

Hat Tricks: Logical Thinking with Shadowchild May 21, 2013

Screen shot 2013-05-21 at 3.16.13 PM Anno’s Hat Tricks (by Akihiro Nozaki and Mitsumasa Anno) is a wonderful way to introduce children to the realm of logic and the powerful word “if”. The book goes through a series of “tricks”, all of which can be solved by applying that “mathemagical” word “if”– a word that opens doors to new ideas. Children are introduced to the concept of using “if” statements to test the truth of an idea or supposition in a logical way. The reasoning pattern of “if…then” can be very useful, and, indeed, branches of modern mathematics have been developed by applying the word “if”.

This delightful book is mainly about three children: Hannah, Tom (both of whom are clearly seen) and Shadowchild (who exists on the page only as a shadow). The writer gives a series of scenarios in which the reader is shown a certain number of hats (all either red or white) which are available, and then which ones of those hats are being worn by Tom and Hannah. We are to use logic to deduce what colour hat Shadowchild is wearing. Although the first number of scenarios in the story are quite easy, the difficulty level increases throughout the book, with the final trick being the most difficult. (If you are not sure of your own level of logical thinking, there are several pages at the end of the book devoted to parents and other older readers that will offer some assistance in the logic being applied in the different tricks.)

Sadly, I think the book is no longer in print, but it is well-worth your while to track down a copy. I know and your children will enjoy the challenges presented.
Mathematically yours,


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